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State v. Linze

Supreme Court of Idaho

November 10, 2016

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOHN PATRICK LINZE, JR., Defendant-Appellant.

         2016 Opinion No. 130

         Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. Thomas J. Ryan, District Judge.

         The district court's judgment and order of probation is vacated and the order denying Mr. Linze's motion to suppress is reversed.

          Eric Fredericksen, Interim State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, attorney for appellant. Sally J. Cooley argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney for respondent. Russell J. Spencer argued.

          W. JONES, Justice.

         I. Nature of the Case

         John Patrick Linze Jr. ("Appellant" or "Mr. Linze") appeals his conviction for possession of methamphetamine. He contends that the district court erred by refusing to suppress evidence obtained by police during a traffic stop. Specifically, Mr. Linze argues that: (1) the traffic stop was impermissibly extended in order to allow time for the drug detection dog to arrive; (2) the traffic stop was impermissibly extended in order to allow the drug detection dog to conduct a sweep; and (3) the alert of the drug detection dog was insufficient to establish probable cause to search the vehicle because the dog was unreliable. Mr. Linze's initial appeal before the Idaho Court of Appeals resulted in his conviction being vacated. That court held that the time during which the drug detection dog conducted its sweep of the vehicle was an impermissible extension of the original traffic stop. This case comes before this Court on a petition for review filed by the State of Idaho.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         On November 25, 2013, at approximately 10:19 a.m., Officer J. Bridges of the Caldwell Police Department ("Officer Bridges") initiated a traffic stop in Caldwell, Idaho. The reason given for the stop was that the vehicle had a cracked front windshield in violation of Idaho Code section 49-902. Officer Bridges made contact with the driver of the vehicle, Rhea Monique Linze ("Mrs. Linze"), and the passenger, Mr. Linze, and explained the purpose of the stop. After initiating warrant checks on both Mrs. Linze and Mr. Linze, Officer Bridges called for a Canyon County Sheriff's Office Deputy K-9 Unit. The call for the K-9 Unit was placed at 10:28 a.m., approximately nine minutes after the stop was initiated. Officer Bridges testified that while the K-9 Unit was in transit he continued to conduct the warrant checks and wrote Mrs. Linze a citation for driving with a cracked windshield.

         Deputy Bryce Moore ("Deputy Moore") arrived at the scene with his drug detection dog ("Hash") at approximately 10:38 a.m., ten minutes after he was called and nineteen minutes after the stop was initiated. At that time, Officer Bridges stopped writing the citation and running the warrant checks. Deputy Moore then approached Mrs. Linze and asked for consent to search her vehicle. When she refused consent, Deputy Moore walked Hash around the exterior of the vehicle. Hash gave a positive alert at the front of the vehicle. At trial, the State estimated, based on speaking with Officer Bridges, that the time from Deputy Moore's arrival to Hash's alert was two and a half minutes. The State conceded that during those two and a half minutes, Officer Bridges had stopped pursuing the original purpose of the stop and was instead serving a "backup function" to Deputy Moore.

         Following Hash's alert, both officers searched the interior of the vehicle. Deputy Moore visually located a glass pipe with white crystal residue in the passenger door panel armrest. After retrieving the pipe, Officer Bridges informed Mr. and Mrs. Linze of their Miranda rights. Mr. Linze admitted to ownership of the pipe and admitted that he used it to consume methamphetamine.

         Before the district court, Mr. Linze moved to suppress all physical evidence, testimony, lab reports, photos, documents, and incriminating statements resulting from the search of Mrs. Linze's vehicle. A hearing on the motion to suppress was held on April 28, 2014.

         At the hearing, Officer Bridges testified that he did not delay the traffic stop while waiting for the K-9 Unit to arrive. He testified that the stop took twenty minutes because: "I was thorough. On warrant checks I ran both through the computer. And my handwriting is very sloppy, so I take my time when I write my tickets. . . . If I would have finished early, I would have called off the canine." Officer Bridges further testified that while Deputy Moore conducted the dog sweep, he stepped out of his car and provided "cover." "It's for his safety, " Officer Bridges explained. "He's not paying attention ...


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